J.R. Smith declined his player option for next season, one that would have paid him just under $6.4 million to remain with the Cavaliers.
Smith, you’ll recall, was awful in the Finals when LeBron James needed someone, anyone, to step up and hit open shots. He was 24-of-77 from the field in six games against the Warriors, and was one flagrant foul away from a suspension, which would have been even more devastating to his team’s chances in the series.
Despite all of that, the Cavaliers are open to bringing him back — if the price is right.
From Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com:
J.R. Smith did not inform the Cleveland Cavaliers he planned on opting into his $6.4 million contract for next season by Thursday’s 11:59 p.m. ET deadline and thus will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 by default, according to Cavs general manager David Griffin.
“If it’s the right situation for us, yeah,” Griffin said late Thursday night when asked if the Cavs are interested in re-signing Smith. “We certainly intend to pursue those conversations.”
Smith is a bit of a wild card, obviously, but seemed to fit in with the Cavaliers during the regular season. He’s reportedly seeking an increase over his previous salary, and wants the security that a multi-year deal can provide.
The question in Cleveland will become whether or not the team can go out and get more consistent shooting in free agency, at a more palatable price. If the Cavaliers can’t find any options that are more appealing, it’s possible they go with the devil they know by attempting to bring back Smith on a reasonable deal for next season.
John Beilein gave the Cavaliers problems mentally.
Did he also give them problems physically – especially Dylan Windler, who’s missing his entire rookie year?
Shams Charania, Jason Lloyd and Joe Vardon of The Athletic:
Warning signs for Beilein could be traced to the Cavs’ Summer League schedule, when the rookie coach ran a collection of (mostly) G Leaguers and non-roster invites through extended practices, multiple times a day. This is precisely what Beilein would have done at Michigan, especially with an entirely new batch of players, this early in a season calendar. But players not only complained about the work, they also were drilled in games by opponents who were clearly well-rested. And this was in Summer League.
There was at least one player, though, involved in those early summer workouts under Beilein who was expecting to make a major contribution to the Cavs this season. Rookie Dylan Windler, a late first rounder, was supposed to compete with Cedi Osman for minutes on the wing. But he never played a game this season because of a stress injury in his left leg — which could be traced back at least in part to being overworked during the summer.
Would Windler have missed the season under a different coach? It’s impossible to say. Counterfactuals are complex.
But there was legitimate reason to be concerned with Beilein’s approach. Teams have learned the importance of rest. Fatigued players are more susceptible to injury.
Beilein’s longest college season was 41 games. He coached 54 games in Cleveland – and left with much of the season remaining.
Handling the grind of the NBA season was always going to be an adjustment for the long-time college coach. It probably got understated amid concern about him relating interpersonally to his players.
The Cavaliers needed practice time. They needed work to develop. That’s clearly what Beilein prioritized.
But they also needed to limit the physical toll, and it’s reasonable to question whether Beilein did enough there. Even if he was learning that the NBA is more marathon than sprint, the several months Beilein coaches the Cavs were enough to cause issues.
Chase Buford, who coaches the Bucks’ minor-league affiliate, went on an epic rant after the Wisconsin Herd’s latest loss. He singled out referee Matt Rafferty as a “f—ing clown” and said the officials were “bad and biased and unfair and illegal and cheating.”
Ryan Rodig of WFRV-TV:
G League release:
Wisconsin Herd head coach Chase Buford has been suspended for two games without pay for a direct and extended public attack on the integrity and credibility of the game officials.
I can’t recall an NBA coach ever getting suspended for something he said during a press conference.
I also can’t recall an NBA coach ever saying something so inflammatory during a press conference.
In 2005, then-NBA commissioner David Stern threatened to ban Jeff Van Gundy from the NBA after the then-Rockets coach criticized officiating. That incident still led to just a $100,000 fine. Twice as large as any previous fine for a coach. But still just a fine, nonetheless.
The public memorial for Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant featured several unforgettable moments, including:
But I can’t overstate how well done the entire event was, how heartfelt the speakers and performers were. If you missed it yesterday and are in the right headspace, it’s worth watching to get a more complete understanding of Kobe and Gianna.
Joel Embiid scored 49 points in the 76ers’ win over the Hawks yesterday.
It appeared he was gunning for 50.
With Philadelphia up 14 in the final minute, Embiid dunked. Then, he hit an off-the-dribble 3-pointer. After grabbing a rebound on the other end, Embiid brought the ball up court himself – with the shot clock on.
Atlanta guard Kevin Huerter raced from behind and stole the ball. Embiid gave him the finger.
Embiid, via Paul Hudrick of NBC Sports Philadelphia:
There’s always this thing about you shouldn’t shoot the ball if you’re up 20 or something like that. And I feel like it should go both ways. I’m running the clock down and I feel like the game is over. That’s why I’m doing it. But to me, if the other team is gonna keep playing defense, and they’re gonna keep shooting the ball at the other end, I feel like we should just be like, ‘Well, be better next time,’ and just go out and score.
How dare Huerter play basketball. During a basketball game.
Embiid had just been attacking for multiple possessions! He was dribbling toward the Hawks’ basket with urgency! How was Huerter supposed to know that was the suddenly the moment Embiid was done playing?